Bob Mankoff’s Third Act; An Update: Mankoff Puts the Kibosh on an Esquire Look Day

On his 73rd birthday, Bob Mankoff, newly un-hitched from his duties as cartoon editor of the New Yorker, let the word go forth he was immediately beginning a new job as cartoon editor (and humor editor) of the 83 year old men’s magazine, Esquire.  Pre-dating Playboy, Esquire was once one of the major markets in this country for cartoons embracing more risque work than The New Yorker (when Playboy came along in the early 1950s, its cartoons made Esquire’s risque cartoons seem tame).  When Esquire was reinvented in the late 1970s there was initially great interest in bringing back cartoons.  After I sold a bunch of cartoons to them during the planning phase, I was invited in to meet with Clay Felker, Milton Glaser and then Esquire cartoon editor, Harvey Kurtzman  — it was all very exciting,  but the excitement was short-lived as using cartoons was abandoned before the first new-look Esquire was printed (it was, after all, the age of illustration, ushered in by the success of Mr. Felker’s and Mr. Glazer’s New York magazine).  But that’s all ancient history. It’s 2017 — with new cartoon markets hard to come by.  If Esquire has its own Look Day, cartoonists can head uptown to the Hearst Tower after first seeing Emma Allen at The New Yorker.

UPDATE:

Shortly after the above Spill piece was posted, Michael Cavna posted a piece on Mr. Mankoff’s intentions, viv-a-vis an Esquire Look Day.  Mr. Mankoff now calls the “open call” Look Day he inaugurated and presided over during his  twenty year New Yorker stint as cartoon editor, “delusional”; Mr. Mankoff’s  “open call”  was in stark contrast to his predecessor’s Look Day, which was open only to veteran cartoonists.  He told the Washington Post’s Michael Cavna what his new approach as Esquire‘s cartoon editor would be:

The idea: What if he were to work closely with a handful of different cartoonists every issue, in a process that he says would “feel less hierarchical” and “more productive”?

The piece continues:

… Mankoff wouldn’t just work with artists, but also performers. “I want stand-up comedians to work with cartoonists, too, to [explore] what a stand-up sensibility could be in a magazine.”

That collaborative approach, he notes, is more like what the New Yorker was still doing a half-century ago, when illustrators and gag writers might be paired on a cartoon.

 Mr. Mankoff  would seem to be thinking of returning, in part, to an approach that began to lose favor at The New Yorker in 1952, when William Shawn  began encouraging the magazine’s artists to develop their own voice, rather than to rely on gagwriters.  While using gagwriters is still an approach a very small number of New Yorker cartoonists employ, it has been largely out of favor at the magazine since the early 1970s (Roz Chast, in a brochure for an exhibit of New Yorker cartoons,  wrote that she felt the use of gagwriters was “like cheating.”)

In The New Yorker‘s earliest days, working on cartoons was a collaborative effort carried on in the Art Meeting, wherein a number of editors (and Rea Irvin, the magazine’s Art Supervisor) joined in on helping sharpen work. When Mr. Shawn was appointed the magazine’s editor, he abandoned that collaborative effort.

It will be fascinating to see how Mr. Mankoff’s retro-collaborative approach plays out in the pages of Esquire

   

 

 

 

New Yorker Cartoons Golden Age Editor; Roz Chast in San Francisco; More Spills with Nguyen, Rosen, Eckstein, Flake, Finck, Donnelly and Arno

 

 

 

 

Rounding out this historic week for New Yorker cartoons and cartoonists as we say “Goodbye” to Bob Mankoff and “Hello” to Emma Allen is an article from the early 1970s as another transition was about to take place: long-time New Yorker Art Editor, James Geraghty  was beginning to think retirement, but his successor was not yet in place (the successor would be Lee Lorenz). See the Geraghty article here at Attempted Bloggery

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Roz Chast was recently out west for the opening of the traveling exhibit “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs”– here’s a brief interview with her from The Jewish News of California, posted April 26th, 2017: “Life’s Funny Like That: New Yorker Cartoonist’s Memoir on Exhibit at CJM”

 

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Jeremy Nguyen and Ellis Rosen will be unveiling their rejected cartoons at the Downtown Variety Hour on May 1st. Details here. ________________________________________________________________________________

My favorite snowman expert, Bob Eckstein, has been out in the Windy City on a Spring tour promoting his lovely new book, Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores Here’s a short interview with him from The Chicago Tribune.

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…A reminder  that the upcoming Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature will present  Women In Ink, with a boffo panel featuring Emily Flake, Roz Chast, Liana Finck, and Rayma Suprani. Liza Donnelly will moderate. Details here.

 

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Finally, for those who enjoy the obscure: the Swann Galleries has a 1932 Peter Arno poster up for auction on May 25th.  A beauty! Details here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Passing of the Baskets

 

This week, as has been noted here, and plenty of places elsewhere, is Bob Mankoff’s last as the New Yorker‘s cartoon editor.  Emma Allen, who is the magazine’s Daily Shouts editor, will become the center of the New Yorker cartoon world next week, and as such, will automatically become the focus of all existing New Yorker cartoonists and all want-to-be New Yorker cartoonists on the planet. And along with all the perks and pecks of being cartoon editor, Ms. Allen will take the New Yorker cartoon version of the baton from Mr. Mankoff  — the baton in this case: three wire baskets —  the three most important baskets in the New Yorker cartoonists’ universe. The baskets, labeled Yes, No, and Maybe are brought to the editor’s desk every week along with a pile of submissions selected by the cartoon editor out of thousands that have come into the office.

  David Remnick, the current editor of the New Yorker, then sifts through the pile, selecting the chosen few that land in the Yes basket. These are the “OKed” drawings so valued by every cartoonist submitting to the magazine. 

In Mr. Mankoff’s twenty years, he’s carried those baskets to Mr. Remnick’s office countless times (there’s possibly or probably a log noting the date of every Art Meeting, so technically, they can be counted, but who’s counting). The Yes basket has been filled and refilled hundreds of times with  the work of veteran cartoonists and over a hundred new cartoonists Mr. Mankoff brought into the magazine. A couple of years ago, when I interviewed Lee Lorenz, Mr. Mankoff’s predecessor, he told me that he felt the most important part of his job was finding new artists for the magazine. Mr. Lorenz, who held the job for twenty-four years, brought in approximately forty cartoonists (I’ll list them someday.  And note, I’m only talking about cartoonists here, not artists who were strictly cover artists).  Mr. Mankoff, whose “open door” policy made it far easier to sell a cartoon to the magazine, brought in close to one hundred and thirty (by my unofficial but not too off the mark count). Cartoon scholars will no doubt debate the ripple effects of these two schools of introducing new cartoonists. 

If Mr. Mankoff was not a cartoonist himself and the originator of the Cartoon Bank, I’d say these cartoonists he brought in were his legacy at the magazine.  But the cartoonists he brought in are surely a big part of what he leaves behind (as is how their work changed the magazine’s cartoon landscape).  And so in the spirit of wrapping things up with a nice big bow, I’m listing all of those whose work first hit the Yes basket on Mr. Mankoff’s watch (it is possible less than a handful of these cartoonists were brought in by the magazine’s art editor, Francoise Mouly.  As always, corrections are welcome).  Ink Spill will of course carry on noting the new cartoonists brought in under Ms. Allen.  Exciting times ahead!

Cartoonists are presented in order of the year their first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker

1997: Aaron Bacall

1998: Christopher Weyant, Pat Byrnes, Nick Downes, Joe Duffy, William Haefeli, Aline Kominsky (Crumb), Marisa Acocella Marchetto, David Sipress

1999: Paul Karasik, John Caldwell, Matt Diffee, Benita Epstein, Alex Gregory, Michael Shaw, Steve Way, Robert Sikoryak, Kim Warp

2000: Ken Krimstein, Eric Lewis

2001: Chad Darbyshire, Steve Duenes, Andy Friedman (aka Larry Hat)

2002: Jonny Cohen, Drew Dernavich, Felipe Galindo ( aka feggo), Robert Leighton, Seth

2003: Donna Barstow, Erik Hilgerdt, Carolita Johnson, John Kane

2004: Marshall Hopkins, Keith Bendis, John Donohue, Glen Le Lievre, Paul Noth, Jason Patterson, Emily Richards

2005: Zach Kanin, Rob Esmay, Arthur Geisert, Sam Means, Ariel Molvig

2006: Joe Dator, Pete Holmes, Evan Forsch, Martha Gradisher, Jason Polan, Julia Suits

2007: Farley Katz, Dave Coverly, David Borchart, Caroline Dworin, Bob Eckstein, Ward Sutton

2008: Emily Flake, John Klossner, Rini Piccolo, Michael Rae Grant, Jose Arroyo, Sean O’Neill

2009: Trevor Hoey, Karen Sneider, Shannon Wheeler

2010: Amy Hwang, Kate Beaton, Isaac LittleJohn Eddy, Kaamran Hafeez, Steve Macone, Mark Thompson, Tom Toro

2011: Corey Pandolph, Jennifer Saura, Ben Schwartz, Liam Walsh

2012: Avi Steinberg, Erik Bergstrom, Rich Feldman

2013: Liana Finck, Charlie Hankin. Julian Rowe, Ed Steed

2014: Tom Chitty, Jake Goldwasser, Jason Adam Katzenstein, Will McPhail, Jacob Samuel, Trevor Spaulding, Adam Cooper & Mat Barton, Chris Cater, T.S. McCoy, Jeanne Darst & Andrew Swift, Ali Rushfield, Peter Berkowitz, Michael Kupperman

2015: Zohan Lazar, Matthew Stiles Davis, Cameron Harvey, Mitra Farmand, Drew Panckeri, Dan Roe, Tim Hamilton, Julia Wertz & Josh Wertz, Colin Tom, Tom Hamilton, Dan Abromowitz & Eli Dreyfus, Brian McLachlan, Andrew Hamm

2016: Kendra Allenby, Seth Fleishman, Darrin Bell, Kate Curtis, Amy Kurzweil, Sara Lautman, Brendan Loper, Christian Lowe, John McNamee, Rich Sparks, Emily Nemens, Sam Marlow, Ellis Rosen, Lars Kenseth

2017: Jeremy Nguyen, Alice Cheng, Jim Benton, Maddy Dai
Maggie Larson, Jason Chatfield

Note:

  • Bolded names: these cartoonists were at one time cartoon department assistants
  • If you see two names joined by an “&” it means they worked as a team, and were acknowledged as such in the magazine’s Table of Contents.

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Video of Interest: From 1997, ABC’s Nightline Looks at the New Yorker’s Cartoonists; Sam Gross on Jack Ziegler; The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna on Jack Ziegler’s Pivotal Role at The New Yorker

Way way back in December 1997, ABC’s Nightline broadcast “Drawing Laughter: the Cartoonists of The New Yorker” devoting its entire half-hour time slot to New Yorker cartoons and especially, its cartoonists.  The video from ABC’s vault takes us back to the Tina Brown era, the beginning of Bob Mankoff‘s tenure as cartoon editor (he’d only been at the big desk since August), and the  New Yorker’s first Cartoon Issue. The piece includes footage of the Arnold Newman photo-shoot for the fold-out group photo that appeared in that special issue (and in the Nightline piece), a photo-op at the Algonquin,  as well as short profiles of William Hamilton, Roz Chast and Michael Crawford.  Ted Koppel sitting in a cartoon newsroom is priceless. Among those seen in the piece, if far too briefly, are Mischa Richter, Lee Lorenz, Stuart Leeds, Leo Cullum, Al Ross, Bud Handelsman, Edward Koren, Liza Donnelly, Edward Sorel, Robert Weber, Warren Miller, Charles Barsotti, Frank Cotham, Peter Steiner, Frank Modell, Mick Stevens, Danny Shanahan, Mort Gerberg, Bruce Eric Kaplan, and Sam Gross. Bonus: a quick shot of Jack Ziegler (“It’s kinda quiet in here.”).

For more Ziegler on tape, here’s a link to his appearance with David Letterman, June 20, 1983.

 

 

 

 

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Ink Spill received the following from the great Sam Gross (left) about Jack Ziegler:

   

Jack took a fierce pride in his drawings. On one occasion the art director at Look magazine made the mistake of putting a pushpin in one of them and then mounting it on his cork wall. Every art director in those days had a cork wall. Jack went ballistic and wanted to kill him. I calmed him down by convincing him that the art director would burn in hell for what he did. I’m sure Jack has gone to the place where there are no art directors.

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From The Washington Post‘s Comic Riffs columnist, Michael Cavna: “How Jack Ziegler Became ‘The Godfather’ of The New Yorker’s Modern Wave of Cartoonists”

— Mr. Cavna on how Jack Ziegler midwifed the New Yorker‘s cartoons into its second Golden Age.

R.C. Harvey’s Trip Down Mankoff Lane

From The Comics Journal, March 27, 2017, “A Look Back at 20 Years of Mankoff’s New Yorker” — R.C. Harvey takes a look at Bob Mankoff’s not-quite 20 year term (August of 1997 – April of 2017) as The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor in this longish piece that covers much ground found in Mankoff’s memoir, How About Never — Is Never Good For You: My Life in Cartoons (Henry Holt, 2014), as well as the very current events surrounding Mr. Mankoff’s imminent departure.

There are a few things in Mr. Harvey’s piece I’m going to quibble with. I’ve reproduced them here, bolded and italicized.

New Yorker cartoons are topical (and always have been) but not as front-page topical as newspaper editorial cartoons. For decades, thanks to the magazine’s founder’s Puritan bent, sex was taboo as a subject for cartoons.

New Yorker cartoons can be topical, but they are not always topical, and they have not always been topical, nor are they all topical now.  For instance,  these two drawings, perhaps two of the most famous in the magazine’s canon: James Thurber’s so-called Seal in the Bedroom, and Charles Addams famous skier who has somehow managed to ski through a pine tree.  If there’s something topical about them, I don’t see it.

As for sex as a taboo, well what are we talking about here exactly?  Barbara Shermund’s and Peter Arno’s work mined the subject of sex in the New Yorker for decades on end.  Mr. Arno, of course, made quite a nice career out of providing the New Yorker‘s readership with sex-based drawings.

By the time Lorenz was cartoon editor, cartoonists were expected to both write and draw their cartoons. (In fact, to reveal an undisguised bias of mine, true cartooning, blending words and picture, can most happily take place in a cartoonist’s mind, not a writer’s. Which may account for the typically inert comedy that prevailed at The New Yorker for so many of its first decades. And, even—inevitably—into current decades.)

Not really sure where  “by the time Lorenz was cartoon editor, cartoonists were expected to both write and draw their cartoons” comes from. It is simply not the case.  As one who was brought into The New Yorker by Mr. Lorenz, the subject of what was expected never came up. The word “expect” just isn’t part of the New Yorker cartoonist/editor language. Forty years later, I can say that the subject never came up with Mr. Lorenz, or his successor.

As for “…the typically inert comedy that prevailed at The New Yorker for so many of its first decades” Mr. Harvey has a right to his opinion, of course, but “inert” is not a word I’d apply to the earliest New Yorker cartoons. In fact, if you look through the magazine’s first three decades  what you will see is plenty of cartoon movement across the page and within the cartoons themselves. Take a look at the work of Reginald Marsh, or Thurber, or Barlow, or Hoff or Johan Bull (I could go on listing names, but you get the point).   Mr. Bull was a frequent contributor in the magazine’s earliest days –his lovely drawings  were barely kept within the borders of the page. And Mr. Marsh’s drawings were electric.  There was a graphic  playfulness to much of the work then; it subsided, appropriately enough, with the advent of the second world war.  If you want to go looking for inert drawings, you’ll find them easily enough and in every issue, but I would say they did not prevail — they were a bit of balance, some down-time Harold Ross so wisely provided his readers.